(Saturday, July 19)
Commenting on the outcome of Friday’s tender for several television frequencies, “Aravot” says the Armenian authorities remain determined not to allow the independent A1+ channel to resume its broadcasts.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the decision taken by the National Commission on Television and Radio shows that the authorities continue to see a serious danger emanating from their opponents. The paper claims that Armenia is now ruled by “degenerate” and unsavory people without any moral principles. “This became absolutely clear yesterday when one of the tools of these authorities decided not to return A1+ and Noyan Tapan to the air.”
“Ayb-Fe,” a daily published by A1+, says the commission’s decision was not unexpected for the A1+ staff, even though they were convinced that they submitted a much better bid than their competitors. The A1+ director, Mesrop Movsesian, says the fate of his channel is symptomatic of a serious “disease” that has plagued Armenia. “Unless this disease is cured, we are going to have serious problems,” he says. “But one should not get depressed. Working under these authorities is something like a curse.”
Movsesian is also quoted by “Aravot” as saying that he will not appeal against the commission’s decision in court. “It would make no sense to go to the court,” he says. “The [Armenian] judges have the status of lackeys.” Movsesian says the A1+ staff will continue their company’s existence by publishing their newspaper and producing programs for regional TV stations.
Several newspapers, including the government-controlled “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun,” carry a statement by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) party which denounces the authorities’ decision against A1+. The statement quotes a leading member of the governing party, Armen Rustamian, as saying that A1+ was “much better prepared” for the frequency tender and was “much more needed by the public” than most of its rivals. Rustamian, who chairs the foreign affairs committee of the Armenian parliament, is also concerned that the move could spell more trouble for Armenia at the Council of Europe.
Also criticizing the commission on broadcasting appointed by President Kocharian is a leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Tigran Torosian is quoted by “Ayb-Fe” as saying that “it is obvious for all impartial people that A1+ is a much more experienced and effective TV company than say that TV5 and others.” Torosian also questions the grounds on which A1+ was again denied a new frequency.
Newspapers also and report and comment on the surprise resignation of Ruben Mirzakhanian, the leader of the Ramkavar Azatakan party, one of the small pro-Kocharian groups that failed to get into the parliament. “Haykakan Zhamanak” says Mirzakhanian was the victim of an inner-party revolt orchestrated by Kocharian’s office.